Stray Dog's Devil Boys from Beyond Is Campy Good Fun

Sarajane Alverson, Stephen Peirick and Michael Juncal.
Sarajane Alverson, Stephen Peirick and Michael Juncal. Photo by John Lamb

Devil Boys from Beyond

Written by Buddy Thomas and Kenneth Elliott

Directed by Gary F. Bell

Presented by Stray Dog Theatre through December 19 at the Tower Grove Abbey (2336 Tennessee Avenue; 314-865-1995 or www.straydogtheatre.org). Tickets are $20 to $25.

Every Christmas Stray Dog Theatre sidesteps the holiday entertainment in favor of something a little more frisky and risque (frisque?). In the season of adults doing everything possible to make children happy, an adults-only show about interstellar sexual shenanigans in 1950s Florida is not just a welcome respite, it's a noble deed. Buddy Thomas and Kenneth Elliott's Devil Boys From Beyond is rude and crass, but it warms the cockles of your heart. No, scratch that -- it hardens the cockles, nudge-nudge, wink-wink. Director Gary F. Bell and cast wring every bit of bawdiness from the show and then put it away wet.

Devil Boys takes place in 1957. A flying saucer has reportedly crash-landed in Lizard Lick, Florida, and ace reporter Matilda "Maddie" Van Buren (Sarajane Alverson) is sent down from New York to get the story. She's driven and successful, but hampered by the presence of her ex-husband, Gregory Graham (Stephen Peirick), a drinking problem with a camera. Maddie's life is further complicated by gossip columnist Lucinda Marsh (Michael Baird), who wants to scoop Maddie to cement her own legend.

Alverson has a gift for playing fast-talking tough cookies like Maddie, and that makes it easy to overlook just how many words she's spitting out in every scene. She machine guns the dialogue like a pro, never garbling a punchline. Peirick's Graham is more thirsty than chatty, but the little dances he performs every time a drink is in sight tell you everything you need to know about his internal life.

As Lucinda, Baird has his own arsenal of dance moves. He plays her as bitchy, catty and highly dramatic even for a gossip columnist. Baird turns sneaking into an office into a Gene Kelly-esque ballet, which is most impressive considering Baird appears to be about six-feet tall in his heels. He sneers when seducing Graham with the rarely-seen bourbon bukkake, and then sneers more sharply when asking Maddie to leave with the gentle rejoinder, "Hit the road, shitface." Good times.

Devil Boys packs a great deal of camp into its 90 minutes, and somewhere in there it finds a moment to make a statement about tolerance. Lucinda's just to the right of Eugene McCarthy, and she's quite proud of outing and shaming homosexuals in print. When the aliens are finally revealed to be shaved musclemen who only wear Speedos, a homosexual is discovered in Lizard Lick. But don't worry, the show's message is only lightly brushed before Devil Boys gets back to nipple-tweaking, spanking and boozing it up. It is Christmas, after all.

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